There are lots of things parents do for their kids. In fact, the list is endless. And, while all are important, they are not all equal. And that is the problem. Sometimes the less important but seemingly urgent tasks like packing lunches and helping with homework take precedent over deeper, more meaningful things that help build connection. So, to bring the important things to the top, here are 8 things parents should do for their kids daily.
1. Be fully present
As parents we can get distracted and when our child asks us something we won’t even look up. And while we can’t be fully present with every child every minute of the day, we can remember to check their pulse at certain times of the day. I totally missed one of these. My daughter was driving herself to and from school. The front door opened, I said hello but never looked up from my laptop, and my daughter went upstairs without replying. I didn’t think anything of it until her sister said, “Aren’t you going check on her? She came in the house crying and has been locked in her room for the last fifteen minutes.” I was so engrossed in what I was doing that I almost missed being there for my daughter when something really monumental had happened. Be fully present when they need us.
2. Be a good example
What do you want to model to your kids? Two of the most important values are consistency and integrity. That means being genuine regardless of where you are or who you are with, church, home, office, doesn’t matter. C.S. Lewis says, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” Our kids are always watching and learning from us, so be a good example for them to emulate.
3. Show physical affection
This is so easy when our kids are young, as they get older they may want to push you away a little but don’t let them. Be considerate and don’t smother them in front of their friend, but mother them when you can. Tuck them in regardless of how old they are, you can even bring them a treat if you have to as an excuse. Especially with your boys don’t forget to hug them. We all crave physical attention and a parent is a parent forever. If you don’t have that connection yet just start today. I think you have to start slowly but you have to be intentional until it becomes a habit.
4. Use kind and loving words
Say I love you to your child. Words really are powerful. Do your very best to show your kids your love and acceptance of them. Compliment your kids every day. Check out Mark’s blog 6 Short Sentences Your Child Needs to Hear You Say for more ideas on kind and affirming words. (Dad, here are 5 things your daughter needs to hear from you!) For a list of questions to ask your child to keep them talking, try our Q & U app.
5. Discipline calmly
This is difficult especially when your child is a repeat offender. We discipline our children to teach them not to do something. We are teaching them to use self-discipline to weed out behavior that is harmful. If you are angry you are not teaching at that point because you are putting your child on defense. Use the Consequence Calculator and Think About It printables from iMOM.com and the blog 3 R’s of Discipline as tools to help you discipline your children calmly and effectively.
6. Laugh with them
Every relationship needs a good dose of levity and humor. Laughing with your kids is a great way to connect just like affection. Not everything needs to be serious and sometimes even serious things can be humorous if you can step back and say yes you got in trouble for this but it was kind of funny. And if all else fails, tickle them or share hilarious videos in the family group chat. If you have younger kids check out the printables section on imom.com for jokes or fun activities such as this treasure hunt!
7. Pray with them
Praying is a great way to connect with them. If you don’t do this now, check out the printables on imom.com like 10 Ways to Pray for Your Child for some great ways to end the night together. Prayer is an opportunity for your child to open up to you about their day. It is a great time to share with them how awesome God is and how awesome they are. It may feel awkward at first, just like hugging but keep doing it. God is good and it will become one of the most special times you have with your children. (Dads should do this too!)
8. Read with them
This one dovetailed with praying for our family because just about every night we would tuck them into bed, pray, and read together. We would read from the bible or one of our kids’ favorites, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Check out our iMOM book list and All Pro Dad for reading resources.